The National Library of Georgia has officially opened a Georgian Book Corner of over 100 books in New York. The collection is located in the International section in the Forest Hills branch, one of 65 Queens Library locations. The Georgian side started working on this project three years ago. Georgian books, films and audio recordings have been taken to the library and the Delegation of the National Library, Levan Taktakishvili and Maia Simonishvili, led by the Head, Giorgi Kekelidze, went on a special visit to New York (NY) to attend the opening ceremony. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Giorgi Kekelidze about the project.
“This is the first official Georgian corner in the US,” he told us. “With the help of my coworker Maia Simonishvili, who is the coordinator of the project, we brought around 100 publications to the library at the first stage, both Georgian books translated into English as well as original language books.”
The book corner is not intended solely for Georgian emigrants, but for everyone, since Queens Library NYC is an international and very important library. The Georgian corner within it is set to attract the diaspora as well as Americans who are interested in Georgia, its culture and literature, and who want to discover more.
“There is huge interest towards Georgia that is evolving, and this book corner will serve the needs of book lovers who want to get a deeper insight into our country,” Kekelidze said. “The opening of a Georgian corner is an important occasion, since for quite a long time Georgia was considered part of Russia. Now, those who still think that we belong to Russia will realize that we are different countries with very different cultures and literature.”
Kekelidze told us that the NY opening represented the 60th Georgian corner opened in libraries around the world, among them Madrid, Barcelona, Bari, Frankfurt, Munich, Potsdam, Paris, Nice and Istanbul.
“Additionally, we are continuing to open new libraries in the regions of Georgia to make books more accessible to the local inhabitants,” the Library Head told us. “To date, we have opened 923 new libraries [or book boxes] in the villages of Georgia.”
The Georgian delegation also met the Head of the Library of Congress during their time in the US to discuss important issues and possible future collaboration. They reached an agreement to bring a Georgian archive of high importance to Georgia: that of Valeri Chalidze, a well-known Soviet dissident and human rights activist deprived of his USSR citizenship in 1972 while on a visit to the US, who passed away in 2018.
“His archive now belongs to the National Library of Georgia,” Kekelidze informed us. “During Soviet rule in Georgia, his name was associated with anti-Soviet activities and his books were prohibited. Among the works issued by Chalidze are hitherto unpublished materials retrieved from the Trotsky Archive at Harvard University, as well as the memoirs of Trotsky, and Chalidze’s own works about the Trotskyite opposition of the 1920s and 1930s and the post-Stalin dissident movement in the USSR.”[:]